After getting back into the groove at the 34th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a 1-0 victory over host country Côte d’Ivoire on match-day 2, the Super Eagles are now determined to beat Guinea-Bissau to finish top of Group A standing on seven points. Eagles drew 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea in their opening game penultimate Sunday.
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But yesterday in Abidjan, Super Eagles Head Coach, José Santos Peseiro, insisted that despite looking good for a spot in the Round of 16 with their four points, Nigeria will not take feet off the pedal when they clash with Guinea Bissau this evening.
“We defeated Cote d’Ivoire, but that is already in the past. We know that in football, what counts is the moment. We must temper our confidence, and put in more work as required. We must not rest.
We want to take the first place and for that, we must do battle. We must do what is necessary to accomplish our mission on Monday (today),” Peseiro said at the pre-match conference at the Palais de la Culture in the Treichville area of Abidjan on Sunday.
Peseiro will lead Nigeria to come face-to-face with the only team to have beaten his Super Eagles in a competitive match since he took the reins of the three-time African champions 20 months ago.
With four points from their first two matches, including a morale-pumping victory over the host nation and one of the favourites, the Eagles are walking with springs in their steps at their Pullman Hotel Abidjan and at their training sessions at the École National de la Police.
Peseiro however cautioned that the work is not yet done and there is utmost need for level heads.
“We have to forget that we defeated the host nation. There is a lot more work to be done. We want to be here for the long haul,” he said at the press conference.
Peseiro won his first two competitive games with the Super Eagles – a 2-1 defeat of Sierra Leone in Abuja and a record-breaking international win of 10—0 against Sao Tome and Principe in Agadir, Morocco in June 2022.
However, the Wild Dogs stepped on Nigeria soil and pipped the Eagles 1-0 in an AFCON 2023 qualifier. Nigeria repaid the compliment a few days later in Bissau, but the Portuguese trainer says the Portuguese-speaking nation still owes him a clapback.
“We are not thinking about revenge but we are here to top the group and they are in our sights. We must do what has to be done. Guinea Bissau have no point and will play with freedom, and that is when a team becomes dangerous.”
Both teams clash at the Stade Félix Houphoüet-Boigny in central Abidjan from 5pmCIV time on Monday, which is 6pmNigeria time.
Today’s crucial game, which will be Nigeria’s 100th match at the Africa Cup of Nations since a group phase encounter against Egypt in nearby Ghana in 1963, will see the Super Eagles finish top of Group A with a win, as long as Equatorial Guinea, also on four points, do not humiliate host nation Cote d’Ivoire at an encounter holding simultaneously at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe outskirts of Abidjan.